Tis the season…

Christmas is still in the air (hopefully) for many of us, but there are parts of the globe that observe another holiday. That is Boxing Day.

History

Boxing day was traditionally a day the servants had a day off from their duties. Because of this the gentry would eat cold cuts and have a buffet style feast prepared by the servants in advance. In modern times many families will still follow this tradition by eating a family style buffet lunch, with cold cuts rather than a full cooked meal. It is a time for family, parlor games and sports in the UK.

The traditional recorded celebration of Boxing Day has long included giving money and other gifts to those who were needy and in service positions. The European tradition has been dated to the Middle Ages, but the exact origin is unknown and there are some claims that it goes back to the late Roman/early Christian era; metal boxes (hence the name “boxing” day), were placed outside churches used to collect special offerings tied to the Feast of Saint Stephen.

Boxing Day is traditionally celebrated on 26 December, St. Stephen’s Day, the day after Christmas Day. Unlike St. Stephen’s Day, Boxing Day is a secular holiday but is always on 26 December: the public holiday is generally moved to the following Monday if 26 December is a Saturday or Sunday; for example if Christmas Day is a Friday, Boxing Day will be the following Monday.

In Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and some states of Australia, Boxing Day is primarily known as a shopping holiday, much as the United States treats the day after Thanksgiving. It is a time where shops have sales, often with dramatic price decreases. For many merchants, Boxing Day has become the day of the year with the greatest revenue.